Thursday, 27 June 2013

El Lunch at El Chorro

After all those outdoor pursuits in El Chorro my feet were aching (what was I thinking wearing what I was wearing?), my mouth felt like Sahara (what was I thinking not bringing more water?), my skin was ready to fall off (what was I thinking not wearing any sunscreen?) and my hungry stomach was making noises so loud they would have put AC/DC to shame. It was clearly time to silence the nagging voices at the back of my head over some lunch.

For that traveller is not exactly spoilt for choice. There's Refuge, a rock climbing club whose blackboard advertised mojito as their daily special. Then there's the tiny bar next to El Chorro station where abuela (Granny) rustles up burgers, stuffed baguettes and home-made chorizo. Charming, in its rustic way. Then there's La Garganta, an idyllic hotel-restaurant that looks like an old-fashioned sanatorium somewhere in the Alps. It balances on the cliff enjoying some spectacular views over the area.

I happily admit to being somewhat sceptic. If that's the competition, would the restaurant even feel the need to make an effort? Would it be sloppy, yet pretentious  establishment full of its own (smugly perceived) supremacy? Luckily my over-active imagination - bordering on paranoid - was soon proven wrong.

The restaurant isn't exceptionally outstanding, but as I was admiring the views underneath the canopy of the vines, providing much-needed shade in the scorching sun, with the warm wind caressing my skin, the chilled wine refreshing my throat and my dear Gentleman smiling across the table...things really couldn't have been much better.

Food was good quality but fuss-free and prepared with tangible and wonderful appreciation for the local produce and traditions. To start with we had a selection of local meats, vegetable tempuras with that gorgeous local honey and morcilla, local blood pudding with roasted pumpkin. 

Tempuras weren't exactly a home-run. We couldn't decide whether they actually had cheese in them or whether the batter was simply so thick it hadn't had the chance to cook all the way through. The light crispness that makes tempura tempura however was tragically missing.  The meats were superb and the sweetness of the roasted pumpkin (with a hint of cinnamon?) balanced the earthiness of morcilla nicely. The result was as comforting as being cradled on mother's arms. 

The portions were generous to say the least and we definitely weren't hungry after all that. The Gentleman has already made a habit of pointing to me (as subtly as he can) how my blog states that "everything should be tried, though not necessarily over one meal" . But the mains look to tempting to pass!

Pork loin with Serrano ham, rabbit stew with orange, leg of pork...In the end - and without a doubt inspired by the baahing sounds of the goats on the pastures in the valley below us - I settled for roasted kid goat. Which was beautifully fatty, succulent and delicious. The potatos on the side were (as they usually are) a bit of a disappointment: they could have been roasted in the fat dripping from the goat, resulting in roasties so crispy and crunchy on the outside and so dreamily light and fluffy on the inside...

After the meal there was only two words to describe how I was feeling: utter bliss. The only way the day could have turned any better was if we could have laid down by the pool for some siesta... but home and our own pool were calling. 

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